The 2014 Fantasy Baseball Draft season is officially upon us. As a part of our draft packet for this season, we’re going to examine the elite options at each position. Let’s take a look at our top 5 fantasy relief pitchers for 2014, and compare our rankings to their current ADP (average draft position) in mock drafts. As always, if your thoughts differ from these, please comment below or make use of our Fantasy Baseball Forum to share.
1. Craig Kimbrel
Kimbrel is one of two closers who had 50 saves in 2013. He’s also one of one closers who also had 50 saves, a sub-1.5 ERA , and a sub-1.00 WHIP. He’s the first closer off the board, in every draft, and there really isn’t any arguing about it.
2. Greg Holland
Our #2 closer is open to a bit more argument. He posted 16 saves in 2012 with strong ratios, and was a bit of a sleeper closer entering 2013, only due to his relative unknown status. 47 saves, 103 K’s, and a 0.87 WHIP later, he’s become our second ranked closer for the 2014 season. His ratios and K’s are equal to or better than Kimbrel, but he’s only done it for a single season, and he’s not on a 90-win team. He’s basically #2 solely due to a lack of resume. Draft, and enjoy.
3. Kenley Jansen
Here’s another top 5 closer after Kimbrel where we’re just splitting hairs to see who is better. Kenley posting a ludicrous 13.03 K/9 in 2013, racking up 111 K in only 76.2 IP. He ended the year with a 1.88 ERA, and amazingly, a 0.86 WHIP, the lowest of our top 3 closers by .01. He’s had heart issues in the past, which adds only a slight hint of risk to his draft day status. But he’s on a great team, is only 26, and could easily finish 2014 as the top closer in the game.
4. Koji Uehara
If there ever was a closer that defined the term ‘breakout’, it was Uehara in 2013. Despite not getting the full-time closers gig until early July, Uehara maintained a stranglehold on the position from then on, including the postseason run. He ended with 101 K, 21 saves, a 1.09 ERA, and a 0.57 WHIP. Basically, he was unhittable. He will remain the Red Sox closer for the 2014 season, and should have a long leash. There is no doubt that his ratios are unsustainable, but he should remain an elite closer despite his age (38) for at least the 2014 season.
5. Joe Nathan
The Tigers needed to find themselves a closer after the 2013 season, and man did they sure did sign a good one. Nathan has had 30+ saves in every uninjured season since 2004. The Tigers will obviously remain the class of the AL Central, and adding Nathan’s 10.16 K/9 and 0.90 WHIP to the back end of their bullpen should result not only in an increase in their win total, but a top 5 fantasy closer as well. He had 43 saves in 2013, and could challenge for the league lead in 2014.
Aroldis Chapman, Trevor Rosenthal, Casey Janssen, Glen Perkins, and David Robertson round out our top 10 at the position. A lot can change during spring training, so be sure to check out our most up-to-date relief pitcher rankings.